This series is almost done! I can’t believe it, can you all? Hopefully you gained a few insights, a little inspiration, to carry you forward in your parenting.
Today we are going to talk about a difficult topic for many of us: the use of gentle discipline. Children need to function in this world, with other people. The question becomes how we gently bring them into ways that will assist them in connecting with other people, how to teach them compassion and how to be kind, and what behaviors are accepted in our society.
One of the main things that seems difficult for many parents these days is setting boundaries in a gentle manner. It seems difficult for many parents to see their child as separate from themselves. Your child is not you! They have different feelings about things than you, different ways of looking at things…and it is up to you, the parent, to help guide your child.
Do you have boundaries for yourself? If you personally do not have any boundaries, it is going to be difficult for you to teach your children to have boundaries in a gentle way. The culmination of all of the twelve senses in Waldorf parenting and education is the Sense of Individuality, of I and Thou. This does not fully develop until the later teen and early twenties, but the foundation of this sense is being laid with your children right now. And this is a sense that many children need assistance with; some children are crawling on top of their parents’ heads (I have literally seen this), some children are so far away and distant. This is an area with the explosion of sensory processing disorders in children that we are seeing more and more difficulties with.
If we set boundaries, how do we do it gently? Children under the age of 7 do not need direct consciousness brought to the occasion, (although six-year-olds can do with more direct statements), but here are some other tools:
- Finding the need beneath the behavior (without asking your three or four year old – you really can probably figure out if they are hungry or tired)!
- Structuring your environment
- Modeling what you want your child to imitate
- Movement of the body
- Fantasy and imagination and pictorial imagery when you speak to your child
- “Time- in” – see this post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/20/why-should-i-consider-time-in-instead/
- Singing and verses
- Doing things together
- Being right near your child and assisting what needs to be done
- Having a space to draw, throw a ball, etc. to diffuse emotion
- Plenty of outside time (yes, this is a disciplinary tool!)
- Looking for the positive intent behind your child’s behavior
- Finding the good to praise
- Holding your child and loving them
- Filling up the child’s “love language” or emotional bank account before things go crazy!
I am sure many of you can think of so many things to add to this list!
Use your quiet confidence as to what is right in gentle strength,